Liberation Group reveals first eight pubs to reopen post-lockdown

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Lifting lockdown: customers must feel safe and welcome, according to Liberation Group CEO Jonathan Lawson
Lifting lockdown: customers must feel safe and welcome, according to Liberation Group CEO Jonathan Lawson

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Channel Islands-based pub operator Liberation Group has revealed which of its pubs on Guernsey and Jersey will reopen first amid the lifting of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The operator of 68 predominantly freehold pubs across the Channel Islands in addition to 30 pubs across Somerset, Bristol, Bath, Gloucester and Wiltshire through Butcombe Brewery – which it acquired in January 2015​ – has revealed that it will start opening sites on Guernsey and Jersey from 15 and 16 June respectively. 

Pubs across mainland Britain will, however, remain closed until 4 July at the earliest​, as per the Government’s exit strategy. 

Guernsey – which was the first area of the British Isles to have no active coronavirus cases – hasn’t had a recorded case since April, while Jersey will move to level two of lockdown on Friday 12 June meaning that businesses, including indoor cafés and restaurants, will be able to reopen under social distancing rules.

Following decisions to allow pubs to trade again, Liberation Group has announced that four of its 22 pubs on Guernsey – the Deerhound Inn in Forest as well as St Peter Port pubs Thomas de la Rue, Dix Neuf and the Ship & Crown – will open from 15 June. 

The following day, the group will resume trading at four of its 44 Jersey pubs – the Old Court House in St Aubin, the Square in St Helier, the Trinity Arms in Trinity and the White Horse Beach Bar & Eatery in St Saviour.

Liberation added that its remaining sites on the islands will also be reopening in the near future as they continue to review social distancing guidance. 

Authentic pub environment

According to a statement from Liberation Group, sites will reopen with a number of new health and safety measures in place, including cashless payments – with pre-ordering available via the new Liberation app – single-use recyclable menus, condiments served in disposable containers for single use and reduced furniture items with increased spacing between tables.

What’s more, hand sanitiser will be made readily available to all guests and staff, capacity will be constantly monitored, and 20-minute checks will be enforced to ensure all public and kitchen surfaces are regularly cleaned.

“We’ve been busy planning for this moment since lockdown started in March,” Liberation Group CEO Jonathan Lawson explained. “We now need to take a bit of time to make sure our teams are fully briefed and trained, new safety measure are in place and that we’re properly restocked. 

“It’s important to us that our customers feel safe and welcome and experience an authentic pub environment.” 

Reopening plans to be rolled out 

Speaking to The Morning Advertiser ​(MA​) on 1 June, Liberation Group’s managing director of pubs and inns Jayson Perfect said that running pubs on Jersey and Guernsey – which are currently loosening lockdown restrictions faster than the UK mainland – offers a unique opportunity to test-drive any reopening plans​ for sites on mainland UK.

He explained that plans will revolve around a phased reopening, comprising sites boasting the company’s largest indoor and outdoor trading areas where social distancing and consumer confidence boosting elements of service can be successfully implemented.

“We’ve got robust four-week and two-week reopening plans for our teams depending on the size of the business and when they’re phased in,” he said. “Within that is an immense amount of training for our teams – that doesn’t matter whether you’re a head chef or a kitchen porter – you’ll get the same level of training. 

“We want to trial this in those sites and then roll it out accordingly – and that does help with the UK.”

Read the latest digital edition of The Morning Advertiser​ – for free – by clicking here​.

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